Gap Year & Summer Program Reviews

Reviews from AV Volunteers

My experience in Kenya has changed me in many ways. It was an incredibly humbling experience, it brought me back to the pure joy of connecting with people with zero material possession or status and it made me aware of how truly blessed I am to live in the United States.

I loved the people I met on this trip, the amazing sites, activities and cultures I immersed myself in and the feeling of making a difference in those less fortunate than I.

I would go back in a heartbeat if I could – I miss the country very much and all of the wonderful people I have met.

See more at GoOverseas.

Helena Darah, Ohio, USA

AV Kenya Program

A unique and incredibly enjoyable experience that made me look at the world in a whole new perspective. I have made friends for life, both in the other AV volunteers and those in the community, and the kindness and support we received from the family, students, teachers etc was unbelievable. It was a life-changing experience; it has to be some of the happiest months of my life, and I am so grateful to have taken part in the project.

Beatrice Hammerton, London, UK

My experience with AV was amazing. The Lepcha Project, independent travel and the perfect guidance of AV and Tendup Lama made these four months definitely the most special time of my life.

Sabine Majoie, Antwerp, Belgium

AV India Program

I loved meeting and integrating with the local community through the teaching, building, transport and playing football with the local children and adults.

Toby Byford, Lincolnshire, UK

AV Kenya Program

Thank you for the best days of my life

… thank you for everything, I’m sure you get these things every year but I honestly have had the most amazing experience of my life and I would never change that for anything. Thank you.

Louise Jones, Sydney, Australia

AV Tanzania Program

Going on AV was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. It was one of the most challenging and yet exciting and exhilherating things I have ever done.

When I first arrived in Malawi I never thought I would take so much away with me when I left. Watching the kids smiling and laughing and seeing how keen they are to learn puts the biggest smile on your own face!

I have made some of the most amazing friends I’m ever going to have and shared some incredible experiences with them, for instance bunji jumping 111m in tandem into the Zambizi river and going on many long and uncomfortable but hysterical bus journeys.

I met so many interesting people along the way, all of whom will not be forgotten. There are tough times, but they are so outweighed by the good and they make the whole experience even better!

Thanks so much.

Kate Elliott, Gloucestershire, UK

AV Malawi Program

I envy you, that’s right, you. Because if you’re reading this and paying attention, let me tell you, honestly, you have the chance to embark on a journey, that will change your life forever. You have the chance to see and experience a world that I can only ever look back on, in my deepest and most precious memories. You have the opportunity now to embrace a country that will welcome you with open arms and warm smiles. The kinds of priceless memories I have taken away from China revolve around just two things, the people, and the places.

Over the past four months, I can promise you that I have ‘lived,’ lived more than in my entire life previously. I have seen things, been places that you cannot even imagine. I’ve discovered places not only out there, in the undiscovered country, but inside my very self. No guide book or brochure can prepare for the emotions you will experience.

Read more…

John Whale, Essex, UK

AV China Program

It’s interesting to analyse what skills AV gave me which have helped me in my career:

– Public speaking – not always on subjects which I’d feel naturally confident; I suppose you could call it bluffing!  So long as you say something with confidence, people will believe you and probably enjoy what you’re saying.

– Learning to work with and enjoy the company of, colleagues with whom you might not at first have a lot in common.  The more you feel that they are very different to you, the more you probably have to learn form them.

– The joy of seeking out other cultures and ways of living.

– Small chat with anyone.

– The delight of basic living.

– The knowledge that everyone has a lot of offer and should never be shy about what they know.  Setting up an art club in St Anthonys when I was, umm, artistically-challenged, has helped me feel I can now train my staff in Food Safety and Hygiene, having never encountered the concept before.

– Most notably and importantly though, CONFIDENCE.  The unknown is not to be avoided.  Try anything that is offered – it will probably be a positive experience, and if not, well then move on and try something else.

The AV experience teaches teenagers that they can survive and thrive on a challenge which is totally alien to anything they’ve encountered in their previous lives.  And I’m sure that many of them continue to seek out ever more extreme forms of challenge, and continue to surprise themselves in their ability to deal with very new environments.

I’ve no doubt that Alissa who works for Deloitte, Rachel who works to reduce the gang culture, Matilda an artist and teacher, Kirsty a fundraiser, as well as myself as a cafe owner, regularly use the skills we acquired during our time with AV.

Lucey Foley, Dorset, UK

AV Malawi Program

Post Kenya feelings have been the strangest and strongest i have ever experienced. I won’t try to explain them, I don’t think i could get anywhere near close to defining them with the vocabulary that’s at my disposal. Instead what I will try to convey is the slow realisation of the affect Kenya had on me. I’ve not come back an eco warrior, I’m not going to start stopping people on the street and preach about how the west needs to give more to Africa and I’m not even going to change the way I act massively. Saying all this though, there seems to have been some kind of elementary change that’s happened that, until recently, I was completely unaware of. I was told Africa gets into your blood, but i think its more than that, I think Africa lodges itself inside your soul and stays with you.
Sam Batt

AV Kenya Program

I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone at AV for helping us to have the most amazing experience in Nepal. My parents have said so many times how fantastic and supportive you were during the earthquake situation! The only bad thing I can say about AVis that 4 months wasn’t long enough!

Kate Penty, Cambridge, UK

AV Nepal Program, Student at Cambridge University

Thank you so much for everything you have done for me over the past 6 months. It has really been a fantastic and completely unforgettable experience. I’m sure that over the past years you have had many many AV’s writing thank you letters such as this. Unfortunately I have never been good with words and so I cannot express how great this time has been and how much it meant to me…

Whether you intended to or not, you certainly seemed to go out of your way to make our stay in Africa particularly special – almost like AV is one big happy family. Now that I have spent a few evenings with friends, sharing gap year stories, I realise just how brilliant an organisation AV actually is – honestly, I’m not kidding. Having spoken to friends on Gap, Gap Challenge, VSO, etc. they all seem to agree that it sounds like I went with the best company, or, of course, it’s the way I tell it. Seriously, when they had problems, the area reps were not particularly helpful and nobody felt they could approach the reps. I think younger siblings will be trying for AV next time.

Thank you once again.

Henry Stratford, Cambridgeshire, UK

AV Kenya Program

I have never seen a better approach to life in anybody than in the people I was in daily contact with over there. So basically I thank AV more than anything for showing me how to live my life along with the best of humanity.

Jonathon Bird, Surrey, UK

AV India Program

Reviews from Parents


I just wanted to write and thank everyone at AV for making it possible for my son, Carl, to have a wonderful, thoroughly worthwhile and memorable 4 months in Kenya. It was quite simply an amazing experience for him and came at just the right time, somewhat out of the blue.  It was wonderful to see him return home to Stockholm with a new look on his face. He was more mature, more confident and very happy.

Thanks very much and good luck for the future.

You’re a great team!  Always positive and helpful!

Ms Ulander

Parent of Carl, AV Kenya Program

In the meantime thank you, and all your staff at AV for all that you have done for these youngsters.  I am convinced that these experiences will help shape their lives forever and that they will learn more about human nature, adaptability and compromise than a lot of their parents!!
Marisa and David Goldesgeyme

Parents of Emma, AV India Program

I am writing as a parent to thank you and your team. Earlier this year Anastasia my daughter travelled to India met up with you and the other gappers, then for four months lived with the Lepchas & taught in the school.

The detail with which you organised all this and also provided feedback to the parents was excellent. Best of all was the way in which you enable these young people to have what I would call a ‘real’ gap year in which they were able to contribute to and learn from a different culture.

By all accounts it was a great success. I say all this as a little bit of a gap year veteran. This is my third daughter and I wish the older two had discovered Africa & Asia Adventure.

Mr Scott

Mr Scott

Parent of Asia , AV India Lepchas Program

The whole experience was superb and we felt very confident that she was well looked after. I would say starting university was a more challenging experience!!!

I could not recommend the whole experience more highly. Her sister Philippa is hoping to embark on a similar experience this time around.

Eileen Daniel

Parent of Rachel, AV Tanzania Program

Oliver would never have initiated his gap year travel. His horizons were rather narrow, having lived in Bracknell all his life, and mixed with peers who had little or no aspirations in life. He was a very shy child, not very articulate, not very good at meeting and talking to new people, and lacking in organisational skills, motivation and drive, I felt.

I suggested his gap year, and the travelling as a way of allowing him to mature and hopefully learn some life skills before going to University, hoping that he would then cope better and more independently.

He spent his 4 months at age 18/19 in Kenya with AV, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

My expectations for his maturity and life skills development were exceeded. He came back confident, able to network and make new friends, with something interesting to talk about, and bitten by the travel bug. He went off to University, and never looked back.

Katherine Crisp

Parent of Oliver, AV Kenya Program

Alison has had a truly wonderful time and seems to have made the most of every minute. She will really miss the Brownies, Guides and leaders and her Christian Union group, quite apart from her class, the teachers and their neighbours. Through Skype, texting, videos and many letters we have had excellent contact with Alison throughout her 4.5 months away and we really have lived the experience with her.

Thanks to AV she has had the time of her life, many life-changing experiences and I’m sure she will come back a truly better person.

Thank you and best wishes,

Katy & Dave Smith

Katy & Dave Smith

Parent of Alison, AV Kenya Program

I would just like to thank you so much for providing Vanessa with such a great time – she had many amazing experiences and really enjoyed helping with the project in Uganda.

She found the school children and all the people there so friendly and welcoming. As well as that she really ‘grew up’ and realised how lucky she is and it made her appreciate a lot of the little things in life. She has made 6 great friends from her fellow AV group.

As a parent we never had any apprehension about her safety and well being. I will definitely recommend your organisation and Vanessa is the eldest so you might easily meet her sister and brother!

Again, many thanks and best wishes

Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Jones

Parent of Vanessa, AV Uganda Program

Thank you so much for you wonderful report.  Absolutely fantastic to read – I hope you don’t mind that I have forwarded it on to my mum in America….!

I know Meg is having a really incredible experience and am so grateful for how you and your company.   It is a very impressive organization – personal and professional and very thorough and comprehensive.

I will not hesitate to recommend you in future! (And am already thinking where my son will go in 2 years time….)

Jean Pudney

Parent of Meg, AV India Program

Andrew and I would like to thank you all most sincerely for the great work you do.

As parents, we have nothing but praise for the efficiency of the organisation of your operation. You have given all your AVs the chance of a lifetime to really grow as individuals, but within a support network which was very caring. Freya enjoyed it so much, made many friends in the village and amongst the AVs and will keep an enduring love of India.

Mr and Mrs Slipper

Parents of Freya, AV India Program

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